Monday, May 31, 2010


I'm going to interrupt my intended line of posts for something else, a little more important. Yeah I know, its random to have me post more than once a week, lazy as I am...but I feel this requires its own post. And I'll post it while its still very fresh in my mind.
Yesterday made up an interesting day. Interesting, isn't it, how it can only take a few minutes for something to happen (even something spectacular), and then those few minutes impact the rest of your life? Not to go off on a philosophical tangent.
You see, yesterday night, a man named Pastor Darrel Cline said his final farewell and goodbye to the church and people he had been teaching for nearly 7 years now, a long time in our minds even if not in the minds of others. Yesterday the pastor of my church, my mentor in all things biblical and spiritual, and one of my greatest friends left North Carolina to go to to deep south and retire for the last years of his life. Twas a very overwhelming, sad day.
That man, Pastor Darrel Cline, was quite an interesting character. Very down to earth, talkative, and with the air of an experienced veteran, Mr. Cline was a master at Bible exposition and teaching. Let me see...he was a man who had a slight disability in his back, that made it hard for him to walk properly, though he was hardly a large man. When he talked, he talked with a very distinct Texan drawl, being a native of that state. When he put on his overly large glasses to read some text or another, he looked like a cartoon character sometimes, which somehow fit into his corny sense of humor.
He was, without a doubt, a very intelligent man. Not only a pastor, he was half medical doctor and scientist, enjoying meddling in medicines and medical chemicals and had even preformed a few discoveries of health and sickness for his small congregation. Even still some of the medicines he used and manufactured himself are being studied and even used by the health-zealous members of the group.
He was also a master of mechanics, it being his greatest hobby. Nearly anything that ran with an engine or motor he could meddle with. Not necessarily fix, and I suspect he sometimes left things broken just so that he could have the fun of opening them up and taking them apart. Nevertheless, he was a master of many skills. He had read nearly any book you could think of, from theology to medicine to fiction. And he was always ready to tell you whether or not the book was any good. In his personal taste.
In other words, he was not as much an impressive he was a friendly and surprising one. And one of the men I most highly respect of all my acquaintances.

When we joined that church five years ago, it was still a very young church. Not like it isn't now, but younger even. When several families in our area got together, either being new and moved in from other states of people that had stayed there many years, those people discovered a sad fact: That even though there are more churches in our region than most any other region on the East Coast...not one of them (that they found or went to) taught solid, Scriptural doctrine and true Bible teaching. From the mega churches to the traditional Baptists, not a single. Solitary. One. Saddening, isn't it?
So they did the next best thing. These families, almost all of which I know as dear friends, organized themselves into their own small house church, or sorts, with one major idea in mind: That they would found a church on the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing BUT the Bible. Regardless of all else, they would adhere to Scripture and most certainly have a pastor who taught nothing but Scripture, and well.
I'm still a little vague as to how they found Mr. Darrel Cline, and even what in all of God's good Creation made him accept the offer and move all the way up here to teach a random bunch of unorganized, entirely clueless families. But he did. And it was about that time, shortly after they were formed and still meeting in various community centers, that we joined that church.
I believe I was saved before we joined, and when we attended another church I certainly believed in Jesus Christ and 'all of that.' But like at nearly all the churches here...there was no growth. No real solid teaching, and increasing in God's knowledge and faith. So when I actually stopped being an idiot around age 14 and started really paying attention to what the old man on the stool was saying, I started growing up. I was amazed the first time I heard real Bible exposition. Why wasn't this in EVERY church?! At any rate, for five years I have studied directly or indirectly under him.
There is one thing you have to know about me, or probably already do: I am a Bible student. And unlike the other things I do, a "sort-of-kind-of-fiction writer" or a "sort-of half-good musician," I AM a Bible student and scholar. Period. If there is nothing else I do, no other knowledge or skills I acquire, I mean to learn how to teach and study and understand Scripture, and teach others to do the same. I don't know what that will mean for the rest of my life...I don't know if I'm to be a pastor or not. But I am a Bible teacher. And that goes much deeper than any fiction writing fancies or musical talent.
For five years I sat in church, at bible studies, and went to church outings like picnics and fellowships and had the pleasure of just being in his company and listening to him talk about some Bible topic, car engines, garden growing, politics, whatever the case had been. For two of those years I was his direct student, when he spent two years to teach me and three other boys of the church how to read and translate Hellenistic Greek and the New Testament. And as always with him, there was no way we could translate it without him stopping every few minutes to explain the meaning and spiritual content of the passages to us. As his Greek and theology student for two years, I learned much.
But he taught me himself the most important thing I know to this day, and the one thing I hope to build any Bible teaching career that I start on. He taught me the most important thing about the Scriptures for today's believers.
He told me NEVER to rely on another man's word or interpretation of the Bible. Never should we have to go to any other man to know the truth or be forced to rely on any other man to know the Bible.
He told me it is our duty, our responsibility, and our great privilege to each of us rely only on our own Bibles in our own hands to know the truth. Everyone need only look into one's own Bible to learn the truth for himself, and never have to rely on someone else's interpretation of it. I'm sorry for all you Catholics, but that's just how it is.

I didn't get to say as much as I would've liked when he left. Honestly I was a bit overwhelmed at the time, not with that, but with my good friend's baptism on the same day, and by my official graduation. However just before he left I did get to say a few words. As he prepared to leave every member of the congregation was shaking his hand and the hand of his wife. Once he nearly got mobbed by the church children, soaking wet from the swimming pool, each trying to hug him before he left. I smiled. I was surprised that even they would miss him.
When he got around to me, I extended my hand and took his, shaking his heartily.
"Goodbye, and thank you sir." I said quickly. The time was pressing, and he only had a few more minutes.
"Alex, take care! Ah, its alright. Your welcome." I believe he was a little overwhelmed and his mind still whirling through all the goodbyes as well. He had decided that it was God's will for him to leave that church and go help another congregation down in Louisiana, so though he was ready to go...he still was also sad to leave also. But God's will be done.
"You've taught me a lot in the past five years. Thank you, God bless you." I smiled faintly, and before he could reply, he had to leave. I'm sure he left early this morning and is halfway there by now.
He is an old man, or an elderly one. Nearing his seventies and rather attached to the deep south where he came from, he made it clear he was going to stay there until he died. In other words, my good, excellent, respected friend and teacher is not coming back. I doubt I will see him again this side of heaven. But eventually I shall see my teacher again. Of that I am sure.

Now, after the goodbyes and farewells, our church is faced with a new stage of life and new problems. There is only two elders remaining in our church now, and somehow we're going to have to find another good Bible teacher to take up the position. Though both of our elders are good, godly, Christian men, neither of them have a very good gift in the way of Bible exposition. And they both know it. We're going to need a new pastor, and beyond that, we're going to have to keep the congregation together while we look. Already many of those who came to our church only to hear Pastor Cline teach will leave, and we still have a major project before us: Having our own church building. On top of that, with a new congregation, or rather a much smaller and more dedicated one, there's talk of reorganizing and reforming a little bit of how we do things. What bible studies to keep, which ones to continue, what activities to drop and which to start...there is a good deal of work to do in our church now. And our church is more than just a theological school and structure, here. It's part of our family. And obviously highly important. Without a church, we are only half good as Christian people. Without some regular fellowship, we're missing part of what it is to be believers in Christ.
And on that note, things will change for me personally. No longer can I have another man to help me with my Bible issues and passage exposition, and no longer do I have a teacher to correct my own Greek interpreting. Perhaps I relied too much on Pastor Darrel Cline, but whatever the case...from now on I need to step up my own learning, my own studying and exposition of Scripture, and from now on, I will do it mostly alone. In other words, I can't afford to make as many mistakes from here on out. Studies in the Bible will increase, as will (I hope, God willing) my fluency in Greek...and I'm considering whether now is a good time to start Hebrew studies or not. We shall see. One thing at a time.
Continue to pray for our church, if you will. God's will be done.

Phil. 4:13

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds